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Nigel Hamilton

5 November 1981
Washington Despatches, 1941-45: Weekly Political Reports from the British Embassy 
edited by H.G. Nicholas.
Weidenfeld, 700 pp., £20, August 1981, 0 297 77920 6
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British Intelligence and the Second World War. Vol. II 
by F.H. Hinsley, E.E. Thomas, C.F.G. Ransom and R.C. Knight.
HMSO, 850 pp., £15.95, September 1981, 0 11 630934 2
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Mars without Venus: A Study of Some Homosexual Generals 
by Frank Richardson.
William Blackwood, 188 pp., £5.95, September 1981, 9780851581484
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Soldiering on: An Unofficial Portrait of the British Army 
by Dennis Barker.
Deutsch, 236 pp., £8.50, October 1981, 0 233 97391 5
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A Breed of Heroes 
by Alan Judd.
Hodder, 288 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 340 26334 2
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War in Peace: An Analysis of Warfare Since 1945 
edited by Robert Thompson.
Orbis, 312 pp., £9.95, September 1981, 0 85613 341 8
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... Some weeks ago Sir Isaiah Berlin gave a broadcast in which he described his first visit to the legendary Russian poet Anna Akhmatova in Moscow in 1945 – a visit cut short in its prime by the bellowing of Randolph Churchill in the courtyard outside, hotly pursued by the Russian Secret Police. Alas, such humorous anecdotes will not be found by Berlin devotees in his latest book, Washington Despatches ...

Little Lame Balloonman

August Kleinzahler: E.E. Cummings

8 October 2014
E.E. Cummings: The Complete Poems, 1904-62 
edited by George James Firmage.
Liveright, 1102 pp., £36, September 2013, 978 0 87140 710 8
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E.E. Cummings: A Life 
by Susan Cheever.
Pantheon, 209 pp., £16, February 2014, 978 0 307 37997 9
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... E.E. Cummings​ is the sort of poet one loves at the age of 17 and finds unbearably mawkish and vacuous as an adult. But in the mid-20th century he was the most popular poet in the United States after Robert Frost, and from early in his career, among the most admired by writers and critics. It wasn’t just the usual modernist suspects like Pound, Williams, Stevens and Marianne Moore who sang his praises, but other, very different kinds of poet too: Robert Graves, Dylan Thomas, Octavio Paz, Louis Zukofsky and Charles Olson ...
1 August 1985
Diplomacy and Intelligence during the Second World War: Essays in Honour of F.H. Hinsley 
edited by Richard Langhorne.
Cambridge, 329 pp., £27.50, May 1985, 0 521 26840 0
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British Intelligence and the Second World War. Vol. I: 1939-Summer 1941, Vol. II: Mid-1941-Mid-1943, Vol. III, Part I: June 1943-June 1944 
by F.H. Hinsley, E.E. Thomas, C.F.G. Ransom and R.C. Knight.
HMSO, 616 pp., £12.95, September 1979, 0 11 630933 4
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... There are at least three books at present being written on Anthony Blunt and the Cambridge Spies. Already the sleuths are nosing out the Fifth Man – the master control, an older don who must have recruited them. In 1977 the Times proclaimed to a sceptical public that he was Donald Beves, the delightful tutor of King’s known to generations of undergraduates who performed on stage in the ADC, the Marlowe or the Musical Society, and whose interest in politics or indeed in ideas was negligible: clearly his bonhomie disguised an Iago ...
6 September 2017
... The Whirling Eye (1920) by Thomas W. Benson and Charles S. Wolfe    A psychiatrist, visiting an insane asylum, discovers his old friend Professor Mehlman, who declares that he has been unjustly incarcerated merely because he is in love with a Venusian ...

Slapping the Clammy Flab

John Lanchester: Hannibal by Thomas Harris

29 July 1999
Hannibal 
by Thomas Harris.
Heinemann, 496 pp., £16.99, June 1999, 0 434 00940 7
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... Dumas’s Grand dictionnaire de cuisine open on his chest. Lecter was incarcerated for having murdered nine people ‘that we know about’, and having crippled two others, one of whom (of whom more later) was permanently attached to a respirator in Baltimore. Dr Lecter was being visited by Will Graham, a Special Investigator attached to the FBI, in pursuit ...

Midwinter

J.B. Trapp

17 November 1983
Thomas More: History and Providence 
by Alistair Fox.
Blackwell, 271 pp., £19.50, September 1982, 0 631 13094 2
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The Statesman and the Fanatic: Thomas Wolsey and Thomas More 
by Jasper Ridley.
Constable, 338 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 9780094634701
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English Reformation Literature: The Tudor Origins of the Protestant Tradition 
by John King.
Princeton, 539 pp., £30.70, December 1982, 0 691 06502 0
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Seven-Headed Luther: Essays in Commemoration of a Quincentenary, 1483-1983 
edited by Peter Newman Brooks.
Oxford, 325 pp., £22.50, July 1983, 0 19 826648 0
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The Complete Works of St Thomas More. Vol. VI: A Dialogue concerning Heresies. Part 1: The Text, Part 2: Introduction, Commentary, Appendices, Glossary, Index 
edited by T.M.C. Lawler, Germain Marc’hadour and Richard Marius.
Yale, 435 pp., £76, November 1981, 0 300 02211 5
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... In July 1519 the rackety Franconian knight, poet laureate and satirist Ulrich von Hutten received a long letter from Erasmus of Rotterdam, still at that time his friend. What sort of man, he had asked Erasmus, was this kindred poetic spirit Thomas More, fellow-condemner of court life and author of the diverting Utopia, as well as admirably an admirer of Hutten’s own satire on monkish blankness and obscurantism, Letters from Nonentities (Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum)? Erasmus’s reply did for More what he had already done for some and was still to do for others of his English friends: it presented him to the learned Europe of his day ...
2 April 1987
Randall Jarrell’s Letters 
edited by Mary Jarrell.
Faber, 540 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 571 13829 2
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The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore 
edited by Patricia Willis.
Faber, 723 pp., £30, January 1987, 0 571 14788 7
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... It was once observed by J.B. Priestley that the literary life in England was ‘a rat-race without even a sight of the other rats’. English authors on the whole prefer to work on their own and find their friends outside the confraternity – indeed, because of this preference, there is hardly such a thing as a confraternity ...

I myself detest all Modern Art

Anne Diebel: Scofield Thayer

8 April 2015
The Tortured Life of Scofield Thayer 
by James Dempsey.
Florida, 240 pp., £32.50, February 2014, 978 0 8130 4926 7
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... work: if Thayer ‘does not surrender the money, he is N.G. to anyone’. Scofield Thayer surrendered a lot of money, lavishing it on the artists he admired, and on many he didn’t, including his former friend T.S. Eliot. Thayer found The Waste Land ‘disappointing’, yet he was its American publisher and gave Eliot the ...

All the girls said so

August Kleinzahler: John Berryman

1 July 2015
The Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 427 pp., £11.99, October 2014, 978 0 374 53455 4
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77 Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 84 pp., £10, October 2014, 978 0 374 53452 3
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Berryman’s Sonnets 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 127 pp., £10, October 2014, 978 0 374 53454 7
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The Heart Is Strange 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 179 pp., £17.50, October 2014, 978 0 374 22108 9
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Poets in their Youth 
by Eileen Simpson.
Farrar, Straus, 274 pp., £11.50, October 2014, 978 0 374 23559 8
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...  ...
4 July 1996
Djuna Barnes 
by Philip Herring.
Viking, 416 pp., £20, May 1996, 0 670 84969 3
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... I look at pictures of her and I just can’t see it. She’s elegant, composed, straight-backed. She’s in a tweedy suit on the beach, scowling at the sun, one hand in pocket, the other holding sunglasses, as if about to make some school-ma’amish point. She’s neat, both modern and quintessentially luxurious; dark hair pulled back into a bun, eyes like soft triangles, sweeping cheekbones, it is a sculpted head, a lukewarm, intelligent face ...

Mulishness

Paul Keegan: David Jones removes himself

7 November 2019
David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poet 
by Thomas Dilworth.
Vintage, 448 pp., £14.99, January 2019, 978 0 7847 0800 2
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Epoch and Artist Selected Writings 
by David Jones, edited by Harman Grisewood.
Faber, 320 pp., £18.99, April 2017, 978 0 571 33950 1
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‘The Dying Gaul’ and Other Writings 
by David Jones, edited by Harman Grisewood.
Faber, 240 pp., £17.99, April 2017, 978 0 571 33953 2
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Dai Greatcoat A Self-Portrait of David Jones in His Letters 
edited by René Hague.
Faber, 280 pp., £17.99, April 2017, 978 0 571 33952 5
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... You​ ought to be in a kindergarten,’ a Canadian nurse exclaimed to David Jones, aged twenty, awaiting transfer home in July 1916 after being wounded in Mametz Wood. Even a decade later, photographs show a wary child or an understudy for an adult. Prudence Pelham, the staunchest of his extended female fellowship, described him as ‘completely unsexed ...

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